Robert Philip Orlando, also known as Bobby Orlando or just Bobby O, is an American record producer, dance music artist, musician, and songwriter.
The son of a suburban New York schoolteacher, Orlando declined a classical music scholarship to pursue his then current musical interest, glam rock. In the late 1970s, his professional interests turned to disco and shortly thereafter, he established his own record label, "O" Records.
Bobby Orlando is a highly prolific music producer, songwriter, musician, and record label impresario. During the 1980s he produced, composed and performed on hundreds of music productions that he released under a myriad of record labels, including: "O" Records, Bobcat Records, Memo Records, Telefon Records, MenoVision Records, Beach Records, Plastic Records, Eurobeat Records, Obscure Records, Beat Box Records, Riovista Records, Intelligent Records, Basic Records, Knowledge Records and others. In the late '80s, at the peak of his success, the one-man-band halted his extensive production output.
Orlando is credited as one of the founding fathers of Hi-NRG dance music. His productions are easily identifiable by their dense synthesizers, rolling bass lines, and resounding percussion. Orlando tracks showcase him playing multiple instruments including keyboard, guitars, bass, synthesizers, drums, piano, assorted percussion and saxophone. The ringing cowbell percussion lines and robotic sequencers heard in "She Has A Way", "The Best Part of Breakin' Up", and "Native Love (Step By Step)" define his trademark sound.
As a solo artist, Orlando scored hits with tracks "She Has a Way", "How To Pick Up Girls", and "I'm So Hot for You". He created his project concept, The Flirts, to further front his performances. With its ever revolving roster of female session singers and models, Orlando churned out international hits "Passion", "Danger", and "Helpless", which featured Orlando as the sole musician. His legendary association with underground film star Divine resulted in classic club anthems "Native Love (Step By Step)" (featuring Orlando's voice in the chorus), "Love Reaction", and "Shoot Your Shot". He also is famed for producing The Fast, later to be known as Man 2 Man.
When Neil Tennant, then an assistant editor at Smash Hits, and later a member of Pet Shop Boys, was sent to interview The Police in 1983 in New York, he sought out Orlando. Both Tennant and fellow Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe were obsessed with Orlando's sound and productions - "Passion", by The Flirts, being a particular favourite. Orlando decided to produce a Pet Shop Boys album and released their earliest 12"s including the original "West End Girls" and "One More Chance". Orlando & Pet Shop Boys recorded eleven tracks together, including the original "It's A Sin", "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)", and "I Get Excited". Many of the original Orlando/Pet Shop Boys recordings have recently surfaced on YouTube.
Orlando produced and penned numerous hits that span multiple genres in mostly self-created groups and aliases, often just consisting of Orlando himself. He sang lead vocals in many of his groups including One, Two, Three ("Another Knife in My Back", "Runaway"), The Now, The Bigalows, Hippies with Haircuts, Kinski Music, Barbie & the Kens ("Just a Gigolo"), and Waterfront Home ("Play That Jukebox"). His productions were released under the names: Ian Darby, The Beat Box Boys, Spooge Boy, Something/Anything, New Breed, Jonny Bankcheck, Hotline, Waterfront Home, Banana Republic, Oh Romeo, Teenrock, The New York Models, Hippies With Haircuts, Girly, Barbie & the Kens, Wow, 1 plus 1, The He Man Band, The Boyd Brothers, Nancy Dean, Ian Darby with Ya Ya, Cha Cha featuring Don Diego, Yukihoro Takanawa, This is House, Joy Toy, Dressed To Kill, Band Of South, Dynasty featuring Dexter D, The Now, "One, Two, Three", Darlene Down, The Fem-Spies, Gangsters of House, Girls Have Fun, Zwei Maenner, Gomez Presley, Gringo Lopez, Patty Phillipe, Malibu, Lilly & the Pink, Miss Tammi Dee, Mc Fritz and the P-Rockers, Charlene Davis, Claus V, Ronnie Goes to Liverpool, The Bang Gang, Bubba and The Jack Attack, Fascination, Free Enterprise, Sandra Ford, Future Generation, Citrus, The College Boys, Condo, The Bigalows, Free Expression, The Look, Contact, Lola, Lifestyle, I Spies, Latin 1, Kinski Music, Gina Desire, Beachfront, Vision 1, and others. Other aliases of Bobby Orlando include John "Gumball" Gonzales, C. Shore, Cha Cha Garcia, Klaus Vogel, Mein, B. Banora, Yuki, and Gato Perro. Bobby Orlando also produced recording artists Franki Avalon, Claudja Barry, Lyn Todd, Tod Foster, Tony Caso, Leah, and Nadia Cassini.
Orlando's songs frequently deal with philosophical themes such as "Try It (I'm in Love with a Married Man)", which was given a contemporary twist when it was re-recorded by Pet Shop Boys in 2003 (see Disco 3). Many of Orlando's lyrics describe unrequited love, private despair, personal angst and a truth-seeking perspective. Orlando frequently etched philosophical maxims into vinyl records featuring his songs; these adages being literally cut into the grooves near the "lead out" and "lock grooves" of the vinyl. Many of these are rare and are now collector items often selling for hundreds of dollars.
His music appears in numerous motion pictures, including: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, Wigstock: The Movie, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Valley Girl, Dark Mirror, Flying, High Risk, Rappin, Underground and others. French electoclash duo Miss Kittin & The Hacker paid respect to Orlando in their song "Walking in the Sunshine" from their 2001 release, "First Album". In 2005, Dance-punk band Shitdisco from Glasgow Scotland, paid tribute to Bobby Orlando and The Flirts in their first single titled "Disco Blood".
Orlando's musical influence on many present day artists is vast and his trademark sound routinely surfaces on Eurodisco, Techno, Italo-disco, Electro, and Hi-NRG releases throughout the world. He has a large international following and is often cited by music historians for his contribution to dance music.
Orlando is actively releasing music today as a solo artist. His most recent releases are his November 2014 CD "Twilight Of The Masses", 2013 CD "Idols of the Mind", 2012 CD "Self-Evident Truth", 2012 CD "Primitive Primal Scream", 2011 CD "Social Contract Theory", and 2010 CD "Bright Nothing World".
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